All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Unnecessary Drama by Nina Kenwood

on November 18, 2022

Unnecessary Drama
Nina Kenwood
Text Publishing
2022, 340p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: From the author of the much-loved It Sounded Better In My Head comes a deliciously entertaining new rom-com, set in a run-down student share house in Melbourne.

Eighteen-year-old Brooke is the kind of friend who not only remembers everyone’s birthdays, but also organises the group present, pays for it, and politely chases others for their share. She’s the helper, the doer, the maker-of-spreadsheets. She’s the responsible one who always follows the rules—and she plans to keep it that way during her first year of university.

Her new share house only has one rule: ‘no unnecessary drama’. Which means no fights, tension, or romance between housemates. When one of her housemates turns out to be Jesse, her high-school nemesis, Brooke is determined she can handle it. They’ll simply silently endure living together and stay out of each other’s way. But it turns out Jesse isn’t so easy to ignore…

Channelling the screwball comedy of New Girl with an enemies-to-lovers twist, Unnecessary Dramais a joyful story about leaving home, dealing with the unexpected complications of life, and somehow finding exactly what you need.

Aaah where was this book when I was 18/19 and navigating moving out and all that kind of stuff?

I’m well out of the age demographic of young adult – actually, my oldest child is basically in that demographic now. But I still love reading YA now and then and it’s surprising sometimes, how often I still find one that speaks to me. And this book just gives me so much to identify with, both back when I was the same age as the characters and even now.

Brooke has finished school and is about to start university in Melbourne. She’s a highly anxious person, the sort of person that is always worried about looking after other people, making sure the vacuuming is done and that there’s a nutritious meal in the fridge. She’s living with Hannah and Jesse, her former high school best friend turned nemesis and it’s a lot to navigate. She’s trying to make new friends and just….deal with life.

There’s a great bit in this book about where Brooke talks about why she doesn’t drink and the Various Excuses she has to give people to excuse her from drinking like: taking antibiotics, doing a cleanse, etc and I felt this in my soul. I’ve never really enjoyed drinking, nor am I very good at it. I always skipped the drunk part and seemed to get right to the ok, I’m going to vomit a lot now. Alcohol also triggers a chronic illness I have but explaining this to people, that you don’t like drinking or don’t like hangovers or simply don’t want to, has never been a good enough excuse. Ever. People always try and convince you, saying you just need to drink more, or drink this instead or do this or that and it’s so boring when people don’t drink. I wish I could say that it stopped but it doesn’t seem to and I was questioned often in my 20s and 30s as to why I wasn’t drinking or didn’t want to drink. I’m 40 now and I haven’t actually faced a social situation that brings this up yet but honestly, I don’t see it changing. If you are at a gathering or a party and politely refuse an alcoholic drink, there are almost inevitably questions. And like Brooke, I have cycled through a myriad of excuses and reasons and I’m not even particularly social. Normalise not drinking, for whatever reason. Australia has a huge binge drinking culture and it definitely seems to garner a lot of sideways glances and ‘but why?’ when you tell people you don’t drink or don’t feel like drinking.

I really enjoyed the romance in this – Brooke and Jesse were best friends in high school but then Something Happened and they stopped talking. It has haunted Brooke ever since and Jesse moving in definitely brings a lot of that back up again. And then you find out Jesse’s feelings on what happened as well and…..look, Jesse did a horrible thing. For sure. But I liked the way that it played out and honestly, I felt like it was so believable. Teens make mistakes. They do and say stupid things to save face, to look cool, to save themselves from embarrassment and ridicule. This deals with the fallout of that and two people navigating their way back to friendship….and maybe more. It involves coming to terms with what happened in the past, understanding it and being able to move on and for the longest time, Brooke doesn’t even want to talk about it. Which, I also get. But she needs to hear him out in order to ever have the chance to actually move forward and the two of them….there’s definitely something there that needs exploring but it can’t be done effectively until Brooke has dealt with the past. And Jesse too, because Brooke isn’t the only one haunted by it.

This was super cute and I thought it was a great read with a sweet romance and even though Brooke’s relationship with her family is mostly in the background, the interactions that are showcased all serve to show why she is that responsible one, the one that worries about things. I really liked Nina Kenwood’s previous novel, It Sounded Better In My Head as well and I feel like she’s an auto-read now.

8/10

Book #189 of 2022

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